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China’s Coal Plant Approvals Surged To A 7-Year High In 2022

China approved the construction of some 106 GW of new coal generation capacity last year, which was the highest level of new coal approvals since 2015.

Citing the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air and Global Energy Monitor, Reuters also reported that China had begun construction of 50 GW of coal generation capacity in 2022, driven by energy security concerns.

"The speed at which projects progressed through permitting to construction in 2022 was extraordinary, with many projects sprouting up, gaining permits, obtaining financing and breaking ground apparently in a matter of months," the report cited a Global Energy Monitor analyst as saying.

The rush may well be motivated by the blackouts that China suffered in 2021 because of a coal shortage and a drought that reduced the output of hydropower plants.

For this year, China plans to add another 70 GW of new coal generation capacity, data from Beijing showed earlier this year. It also plans to add a lot more in solar and wind: 100 GW in new solar power capacity and 65 GW in new wind power capacity.

China’s electricity generation capacity from renewable sources is expected to jump above 50 percent for the first time this year. According to the China Electricity Council—the power sector’s lobby group—low-carbon electricity sources will account for over 52 percent of total power capacity in China by the end of 2023, up from 49.6 percent at the end of last year.

Last year, new solar power additions in China hit 84.7 GW and the country plans to add another 95 to 120 GW this year, which would be a 23% increase over 2022. This is despite authorities in some areas requiring mandatory storage additions and limiting the availability of land, land which solar is now competing with the farming industry for.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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